Monday, May 30, 2011

We Drove, We Rocked Out, I Took Lots Of Pictures

My nephew, who was the ring-bearer in our wedding 20 years ago, was married over the weekend. He married a lovely girl who channeled Cinderella. Seriously. Her dress was straight-out Disney princess. They were married in Southeast Missouri on the lawn at the bride's parents' home on a lovely (but quite warm) evening.There was a piper. How can you not have a great time at a wedding where a piper is involved? And of course, there were the obligatory "A piper is dooown! A piper is dooown!" quotes. Awesome.

The groom.

The lovely bride.

The flower girls just about did me in.

Even the cat wanted in on the occasion. How great is that?(Fortunately, my mother was not in attendance, or she would have run screaming from her seat. She is quite seriously cat phobic.)

My niece who will be the bride in about three weeks...

...and her fiance, who, it seems, is just crazy enough to fit right in with our family.

The bride's grandfather. His picture should be in the dictionary next to "Southern Gentleman." He had a lovely Georgia accent. He is a retired OB-Gyn and he delivered Jessica, the bride. When he stood for his toast he said that the first time he met her, she mooned him. Love it. He went on to give a lovely toast about the well-matched couple.

My niece gave another lovely toast.

My kids looked great.

If this was my front yard, I'd be sitting out there all the time with a glass of wine. My children would have to lead me back into the house.

Mary--who will be flower girl in my niece's wedding. She was taking notes while the flower girls did their thing.

Sean--he looks like he could be a Kennedy, chillin' at The Compound.

My beloved and I. I had on a suit jacket and wore my hair down. About 3.5 seconds after the ceremony, the jacket came off and the hair clip came out.

You know it's a good time when the ladies ditch their shoes.

First dance.

Congratulations, Clark and Jessica! May this be the beginning of a wonderful journey.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Family Phrases: Good Gravy Marie, That's Different!

I used the word "monkeyshines" in a facebook post yesterday. It got me to thinking about things that I heard in my family that either I don't hear much anymore or that if I say it cause one of two reactions: people either look at me askance or I mentally cringe and want to shove the words right back in my mouth because Holy Hannah, I swore I would never say them when I grew up. And no, they're not swear words.

Here let me give you some examples:

Hotsie Totsie Dirty Little Nazi. I actually said this one this morning when I burned my fingers pulling a Toaster Strudel out of the toaster. (Don't get the wrong idea. The strudel wasn't for my children. I would never feed them such non-nutritional stuff. I awoke at 4:30 a.m. so that I might fix them a full farm breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, juice, and milk. After I fed them I sent them lovingly off with a kiss and promises of milk and warm cookies fresh from the oven when they got home....HAHAHAHAHA!! Yeah. The strudels were totally for them.) I heard my parents say this phrase when something was too hot to handle.

Say! Really this is a drawn out Saaaaaay!! It's said with a warning tone and a stern look. It's meant to be a sort of "hey you overstepped your verbal boundaries and you'd better put the brakes on before you find yourself in a world of hurt" type of statement but with way fewer words. I can remember my mother saying this to me when I got sassy. I have heard myself say it to my own sassy children.

Good Gravy Marie! This is an expression of surprise or dismay. I remember asking my mom about this one when I was little and she explained it to me. I loved it. I loved that we didn't know anyone named Marie let alone how good her gravy was and here we were exclaiming over it in situations that had nothing to do with gravy consumption at all. This one flies out of my mouth occasionally and I always have to do a quick look around to see if anyone heard me.

Oh My Goddy. My mother tells the story of how this came to be. Apparently she and my dad were driving down the highway and getting ready to change lanes. When my dad looked in his mirror he didn't realize that a semi was barreling down on them and the first words to escape his lips were "Oh my goddy!" Even now it makes me grin and I use it only when in a moving vehicle.

Excuse The Pig The Hog's Out Walkin'. This was used whenever my dad or brothers would accidentally let a (very large, loud) burp escape after dinner. You understand that this was unacceptable behavior, right? And of course, being the delicate, feminine flower that I was (am) I never engaged in that sort of behavior. It was always said with surprise and a hint of contempt for the lack of manners shown. I have been known to say it to my own children on occasion. But never my beloved because he has never, ever sat at the dinner table and burped the word "mama" after consuming his meal. Ahem.

It'll Be A Clear Day Tomorrow. My mom used to say this one at the dinner table as well. She said her dad used to say it. Basically, it means that you've cleaned your plate. It's particularly fitting after a delicious dinner where you have availed yourself of all offers of second or even third helpings. I have been known to utter this one after eating Feta Dip and Buster Bars In A Pan--oh, and lots of other stuff.

That's The End Gate. This was said when, obviously, the last of something occurred or something was finished. I think this came from my maternal grandfather, but before that I'm not sure. It sounds like a ranching expression. How it came to us I have no idea, because my family? Not so much with the ranching. It doesn't seem to matter, though, because I say this anyway. And you can see my children looking around for a gate and then giving me the stink eye because obviously I am simple.

I Have To Go Wee. WHEEEE!! I believe this is from an old Benny Hill bit. Doesn't matter. If I need to use the facilities, you can often hear me saying this. I am Klassy.

Pretty Is As Pretty Does. My mother used to tell me this all the time. I hated it and it made me cringe both inwardly and outwardly. Then it became a bit of a joke. Not the sentiment, because that's sound, but my visceral reaction to it. I swore I would never say it when I grew up. And mostly I haven't. In so many words anyway. I've said things like "You know, if you don't treat people nicely, it doesn't matter what you look like. They won't see your appearance, they'll see your actions." Yeah. That's probably not going on a bumper sticker any time soon...

How about you? Do you have any words or phrases that your family says that make sense to you but might make other people scratch their heads? Do tell. I promise not to look at you as if you are crazy. Good gravy Marie, that's the truth!

Monday, May 23, 2011

You Should Try This, Too.

This is not a cooking blog. Pinky swear. Because my family is not adventurous enough for that. That would require them eating more than chicken, beef, potatoes, corn, and pizza. (Okay, they do a bit better than that, but they are not up for new stuff most of the time.) So. No worries that this is going to become a place where you will find only new things to eat, is what I'm saying.

But! Today I do have a lil sumpin-sumpin that you might be interested in. I know I was. In fact, I was so interested in it that it became my dinner on Friday night. While the rest of the family was eating grilled hot dogs and mac'n'cheese, I was face planting daintily partaking of this:

I'm not really sure what to call it. I found this recipe from Melissa at 320 Sycamore who in turn found it at Clover Lane. They called it Feta Dip. It's not so much dip--although I guess you could dip your bread in it--as a sort of feta bruschetta, I guess. Whatever else you want to call it, you will also call it delicious.

Want to try it? It's simple. Here's what you do:

Pour a little olive oil onto a plate or dish. Chop up some green onions and Roma tomatoes. Add in some crumbled feta cheese. Sprinkle on some Greek seasoning and stir gently. Top some fresh crusty bread with this deliciousness and call it good. Or great. Or addictive. Or perfect for summer. get the idea. Pair it with a nice glass of wine, a good book, and a pretty setting and you have a recipe for a perfect evening.

Try it. You'll like it. Not that anyone else in my family tried it, but then again, I don't recall offering them any. I think I may have said something like "Jumpin' Jehosophat this is amazing! Don't even think of getting near it! It's mine! MINE, I say! All MINEMINEMINE!" and then commenced putting my snout in the trough and going to town.

I may have to make some more this week. This stuff is like crack. Crack in a dish. Now there's a good name for this recipe.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Like A Buster Bar In A Pan

My parents were in town yesterday for a quick, under-24-hour visit. They came to see Maggie's final band concert and then had to leave this morning for home because they are busy. Seriously. The social calendar of my retired parents puts mine to shame.

Anyway! I decided that since they wouldn't be able to make it to Mary's end of the year kindergarten celebration (not their fault--our own social calendar means that we have to leave town right after her program) and since the school year is winding down--only 10 days left! (stupid snow days!)--that we would do a smushed together celebration along the order of Chrismahanukwanzakah, except celebrating end of the year type things.

So our celebration was a Maggie's graduating 8th grade and moving into high school, James is entering junior high, Sean will be the big man on the elementary campus, Mary is going to first grade, thankthegoodLordschoolisalmostovernomorehomeworkorprojectsformomtosupervise, sort of thing. You know, we keep things simple around here.


We celebrated with one of my favorite desserts ever. If you like Buster Bars from Dairy Queen--and I do, as my backside will attest--then you will love this dessert because it is super easy and is a bit like a big Buster Bar in a pan.


And because I love you and because I want you to go make your own sort of whatever-it-may-be type of celebration, I will share the recipe. Yes, I love you that much.

Here goes:

19 ice cream sandwiches (this time I used a bit of a smaller pan so I only used 14 sammies)
1 carton (12 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed (I used a 16 oz. carton. See how forgiving and easy this recipe is?)
1 jar (11-3/4 oz.) hot fudge ice cream topping
1 cup salted peanuts

Cut one ice cream sandwich in half. Place one whole and one half sandwich along a short side of an ungreased 13x9x2 inch pan.* arrange eight sandwiches in opposite direction in the pan. Spread with half of the whipped topping. Spoon fudge topping by teaspoonfuls onto whipped topping. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup peanuts. Repeat layers with remaining ice cream sandwiches, whipped topping and peanuts (pan will be full). Cover and freeze for up to 2 months. Remove from freezer 20 minutes before serving. Cut into squares. Yield: 12-15 servings.

*Depending on the size of your pan, you will need to cut your sammies in half either lengthwise (you know, long and skinny which is what I had to do with this pan) or widthwise, which is what I've done with a regular 13x9 pan.

And because we are fancy with a capital F, I put some sprinkles on top. I've also sprinkled the top with shaved chocolate or cut up Reese's cups in the past.

So now, go. Celebrate something. Anything. You have the perfect dessert for it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another Letter, But This Time It's Official

We got a letter from our HOA last week stating that there had been a complaint about our lawn. It further stated that we were not in compliance with covenants if our lawn/weeds were overgrown and that we should take immediate action before the HOA was forced to take action at our expense. It then went on to say that if we had already done something about our godforsaken wilderness, abandoned lot that looked like squatters had taken over, statement to the neighborhood that we obviously descended from white trash and my lord what's next a couch on the lawn?, our lawn, that we could disregard this letter.

Don't you love that? Here, folks, read this letter that points to a passive aggressive streak in one of your neighbors. Then think about the ways that the HOA can reach into your wallet just because it can. Then feel shamed because obviously you are not worthy of living in this neighborhood. And oh yeah! Never mind.


Would you like to know what's wrong with our front lawn? Well, I'll tell you, but you have to keep it quiet. It's shameful. It might cause you to think less of me. Are you ready? Okay, here it is: dandelions.

Now, before you run away from your screens screaming and wailing and gnashing your teeth or doing an online search for sackcloth and ashes so that you might properly grieve this horrendousness, (Don't mess with me today spellcheck, I am totally declaring the wordness of "horrendousness." And, by the way, I'm declaring it for "wordness" too. So just shut it, spell check!) let me state for the record: WE HAVE DANDELIONS. Oh, Sweet Mother Jumper do we ever have dandelions.


We have been working on those dandelions. We, and by that of course, I mean my Beloved, religiously spray them with killer and make them get all twisty and brown. Then we mow them down. We have even taken a bid on getting our front lawn re-sodded. But let me tell you what we, and by that of course I mean any of us in this household, DON'T do:

*We don't spend our kids' college funds on getting new grass. (Okay, so maybe that's a bit of hyperbole, but the bid still came in in the thousands. Thousands. For grass, people. Right now, we are just not willing to do the sort of fuzzy accounting that would justify it.)

*We don't go out and spend our time on our knees trying to dig dandelions out of the Indiana clay. We might spend time on our knees praying for sanity to deal with our neighbors--or even sanity for our neighbors--but we just aren't going to do that.

*We don't tell our children that they cannot play on the grass because then it wouldn't look nice and might be a violation of The Covenants. Yes, our front lawn is patchy. I'm sure some of it is due to children playing football and such on it. I'm also pretty sure that this lawn was utter crap when we moved in, after it sat neglected for two years. We have kids. They play. Our lawn will always reflect that. Thank God.

*We don't spend our waking hours critiquing the neighbors lawns.

Does our lawn look good? No. It's not what we'd like it to be, but it also, if we let it, would consume time and/or money that we aren't willing to invest in it right now.

Is it the worst on the block? Probably. But it doesn't look like an abandoned lot. In fact, once the dandelions get mowed, it doesn't look too bad. It's still patchy, but so are some other lawns.

Are my neighbors busybody crazies with too much time on their hands? I'm going to jump out on a limb here and say, um, Hell. YUP! I would respectfully submit that they put their rather large noses to work somewhere else.

Perhaps instead of lamenting the state of the lawn 15 yards to the south, they should start lamenting the state of some of the neighborhoods 15 miles to the south. Perhaps they could put their considerable skills to use in schools that never have enough help and kids who never have someone to listen or advocate for them. Perhaps they could work in a shelter for folks who don't have a home, let alone a lawn. Perhaps they could use some of the time that they spend worrying over the state of neighbors lawns volunteering with the Red Cross where they could worry over people who really need some worry and concern.

And perhaps monkeys will fly out of my butt and sing Jingle Bells. I know that they will not do any of those things, because those are hard things. It's hard to get involved in the lives of those who have less. It's messy to jump in and do the hard work of helping others and become involved in their lives. It's easy to sit on your highly manicured lawn and look down your nose at other people. Happens all the time.

Blogger was broken for a couple days last week and so I was unable to blog about this when I had a full head of steam. That's probably a good thing. It allowed me some space and perspective--two things that are almost always a good thing to have. I have to admit that I didn't have any grace. I immediately started to rant about this neighborhood and its relative unfriendliness and its competitive nature. I might have called the neighbors names that rhyme with "witch" and "hatspit" crazy. I bemoaned the fact that we have worked hard on improving this house and making it a nice place to live, but none of the neighbors would know, because none of them ever come over to chat when we are outside. I was full of self-pity and ready to heap abuse on my neighbors. But blogger was broken, so I couldn't.

And now, even though it makes such great blog fodder, I declare this the last post I will write about these neighbors. It doesn't do me any good to continue to focus on this stuff. I will continue to wave and be friendly. I will continue to pray for all the families in this neighborhood--especially when I don't want to. I (Beloved) will continue to work on the weeds and improve the lawn. And I will start to look for the positives in my neighbors. Short of murder--or something really funny--you'll not be hearing about them from me again. It just isn't worth it for me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sit on my patio in my back yard. It's beautiful and lush and full of flowers. It's a pretty and serene place. And none of my neighbors can see it! Bwahahahahaha!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I got out my sewing machine yesterday. And by "got out" I mean that I removed several metric tons of crap that covered it. It was almost as if someone had put that stuff on top of it to purge the very memory of its existence. I had found this very cute idea, you see, and thought that it would make a very cute end of the year gift for some of the teachers that have been kind enough not only to put up with my kids on a daily basis, but to educate them as well! All that would be required of my machine would be several simple zigzag stitches. Easy, right? No big deal, correct? HAHAHAHAHAHA!! I may have stated here before that my sewing machine hates me. That has to be the reason that my bobbin thread kept tangling. And I'm not talking a little knot. I'm talking "shut down the machine because half a spool of thread is tangled in this freaking thing" kind of tangled. So tangled that even Rapunzel would have been jealous. So tangled that I cursed the Singers, their stupid machine, and their family even unto the generations. So tangled that I cursed the invention of the needle. So tangled that I threw my project in a heap, glared at the machine and told it that it was going back to the bottom of the pile of crap in my closet and it could molder there for the rest of its time on this earth. Hmph.

Anyone want to make some simple zigzag stitches for me?

Mother Nature has it in for me. First she decides that it would be great to try to throw me into depression by hiding the sun and sending rain and cold temperatures for nearly all of April. Then she decides to skip the normally beautiful and temperate month of May and just head for the yawning mouth of hell that is July. There's something wrong with having the air conditioner turned on in May in Indiana.

And she has also told the cottonwood trees to have a party and send their fluff into the air like so much confetti so that my family and I wake in the mornings with clogged sinuses and crusty eyes. She has also tried to ruin any grilling that I do with this fluff because it doesn't care where it lands or if it will commit nature's version of suicide by landing on my grill and any of the food that might be on it.

Bite me, Mother Nature.


Maggie was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society last week. We are mighty proud. Sometimes she doesn't even seem 14, such is her maturity. Aaaaaand then she proves that she is indeed a teenager with some sort of hormonal induced fit of pique. Or eye rolling. Yeah. The eye rolling is proof that she is still a teenager.

Still. So proud.


I wish that I had the guts to send out a letter to teachers at the beginning of May that I am off duty for the month. I am no longer interested in ridiculous homework, projects that require more than minimal time or effort (read: anything more than my signature), or carnivals or fairs in which you not only want my attendance but you ask that I volunteer time, money, and/or baked goods as well. I say that really, once DST goes into effect and the evening is extended, my only homework should involve the many different ways I can use my grill (sans cottonwood fluff, of course) and inventive ways of getting my family to do fun stuff outside.

Alas, I am a Gutless Wonder and have not sent such a letter.


Sean had a baseball game last night. On one of his at bats, he hit a single. Yay! Then he stole second. Yippee! Then he stole third--had to slide and totally evaded the tag. Wahoo! He knocked third base loose. Then the ball was over thrown at home and he was waved on by his coach. You know what my boy did? You know, my boy who can't pick up his laundry or wet bath towels? He was trying to put the base back.

He knew he should be running, but he was frantic with trying to get the base put to rights. The coaches were yelling, jumping, and windmilling their arms wildly. The parents were yelling "Run! RUN!" and my sweet boy was trying to put the base back. Eventually something clicked (and thankfully there was another overthrown ball--gotta love Little League) and he dropped the base and sprinted head down, arms pumping for home where he scored.

Completely made my night. If you are feeling the least bit grumpy or out of sorts, I highly recommend watching young kids play sports. I can fairly guarantee that you will feel better afterwards.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Can Outlast Shapewear And Other Things I Learned This Weekend

We attended a wedding reception this weekend--our first of three in the next 6 weeks. It was a first for my children. You know how you go through cycles with that stuff? You attend some when you are younger for friends and family. Then as you are nearing that stage of life yourself, you attend what seems like an endless stream of weddings and receptions and showers for yourself, your siblings, your friends. Then you move beyond thatto baby showers. And before you know it or are ready for it, you have friends who have children who are getting married or the niece and nephew who were the flower girl and ring bearer inyour own wedding are getting married themselves.You blink and twenty years has passed.


We attended a wedding reception last weekend and I may have killed my "shape wear." I'm pretty sure "shape wear" is what my grandmother would have called a girdle. Yes, my friends, I am at a point in my life where gravity is my archenemy and the fashion industry has come to my rescue with Spanx and such all so that my clothed backside doesn't look like two piglets wrestling under a blanket. Who says life after 40 isn't fun?

So my shape wear is a little worse for the wear and it's all my sister-in-law's fault. She caught me at the table early in the evening and laid it out: I would be dancing. I would be dancing ALL NIGHT, dammit and I would like it. I was going to rock the floor with her and that was all there was to it.

I should mention some things here: My sister-in-law is awesome. (All of my sisters-in-law are great, they just weren't all there demanding that I bust a move.) She is to be the Mother of the Groom at the end of the month. Then a few weeks later she will be the Mother of the Bride. Overachieve much? She was ready to get her groove on at this reception to gear up for the next two. Also? My sister-in-law is reed thin. I'm pretty sure that she's never worn shape wear in her life. I'm pretty sure that if I said the word "shape wear" to her, even in context, that I would be met with a puzzled look and the sound of crickets chirping. She is thin and beautiful and awesome and she demanded that I shake my groovethang.

Yes, I am totally blaming Heather for the demise of my girdle. Because I was the mayor of that dance floor. I am still sore. I have blisters on my feet and my thighs scream for mercy when I climb stairs. I don't need Zumba or some fancy exercise program, I'll just crash weddings to stay in shape. By the end of the night, my shoes were off, my jacket was draped over a chair, my makeup was pretty much melted off my face, my hair was...well, let's not even go there, and my shape wear was cursing the day it ever met me.

I learned that I am a shape wear killer. And I'm pretty sure that I tortured it before I killed it. Those creeps on Criminal Minds have nothing on me. I could be a serial shape wear killer on Criminal Behinds.

I also learned that my oldest son is a dancing fool. If you had told me 12 years ago when I was holding that 9 pound bundle that one day I'd be fist pumping on a dance floor to the Black Eyed Peas with him I would have laughed in your face. He fast danced, he slow danced, he did push ups, he moonwalked, he played air guitar, he did "the bump" with me. It was awesome.

I learned that my 14 year old daughter, when given enough persuasion (read: her Uncle Steve, incidentally married to my awesome arm-twisting SIL, wouldn't let her sit down because "Weddings aren't for sitting! People who sit through life never have any fun!") and the proper song, is happy to get out on the floor and dance and laugh with the rest of her crazy family. Thanks, Flo Rida and Ke$ha! Your songs are just the thing to make a 14 year old forget to worry about being embarrassed.

I learned that the number of times I will hear a rebel yell "Woooooooooo!" along with a fist bump from my husband is directly proportional to the length of time we have been at the party and the number of um, "toasts" he has made.

I learned that it only took 20 years, but I finally convinced my husband that there is more to do on a dance floor than slow dance.

I learned that standing in front of the speaker for more than a chorus of any song will leave your ears ringing for hours.

I learned it is important to dress in layers.

I learned that molesting the Moose at the Moose Club could get you banned for life.

I learned that my nephew is just as fun to dance with now as he was 20 years ago at my wedding. (His intended is a gem as well. Poor thing didn't bat an eye at our craziness. She just joined right in. Love her!)

I learned that Mary has an overdeveloped vocabulary. Witness this exchange:
Me: Are you going to dance with Aunt Heather and I later?
Mary: Um, NO! I would be humiliated! (I'm still wondering exactly where she learned that word...)

I learned that my family is awesome--even more awesome than I already believed them to be--and that I am really looking forward to the next party.

And seriously, somebody had better make sure that Vanilla Ice is on the playlist. Word to your mutha!